WORD CLINIC 25: Christian accountability

WORD CLINIC 25: Christian accountability

“I don’t need to pattern my life after any man of God, or older Christian brother or sister. I just need to stay with God’s word. It is the best teacher. In fact, it is the only teacher. After all, Christianity is personal.” said a brother to me years back, as we discussed Christian discipleship and accountability. His statement may appear true to the undiscerning, but it is only half truth.

Many believers have remained stunted in their spiritual growth, and some have fallen out of the faith because they failed to understand and accept the pivotal role that accountability plays in Christianity.

Christian accountability entails been answerable to other believers. It means been obligated to report, explain or justify one’s actions or words to other believers that one has deliberately hand-picked. It is a state that allows one’s life to be poke nosed into. I know this doesn’t go down well with many, but it is scriptural.

First Peter five verse five says in the King James version, “. . . you younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another. . .” I like the way The Message translation renders this same scripture. It reads thus, “. . . you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other. . .” That’s Christian accountability, being down to earth with one another.

From my short Christian sojourn and from my interaction with other believers, I’ve found out that there can exist at least three types of Christian accountability relationships. The first is that that exists between you and another believer that you perceive as ahead of you in the faith. The second is the accountabilty that exists between you and a believer in the same spiritual growth level as yours. And the third is that accountability relationship that exists between you and a younger believer that has committed himself or herself to you.

Every believer must place himself or herself under someone older in the faith. This should be a deliberate step. The essence is to seek guidance. Apostle Paul admonished the church in Corinth in First Corinthians eleven one to be followers of him, even as he followed Christ. In the same vein, he admonished the Philippian church in Philippians three seventeen to follow his example; and that just as they had him as a model, they should keep their eyes on those who lived as he did.

You should have Christian brethren in your growth sphere that you’re accountable to. Prayer partners that you can unburden before the Lord with. Christian friends that can be frank with you about your shortcomings that others may be reluctant to talk to you about. Brethren that you can ‘argue’ God’s word with, all with the intent of edifying one another. I believe Proverbs twenty-seven verse seventeen was inferring this level of accountability when it says that iron sharpens iron, so shall a man sharpen the countenance of his friend.

Now some leaders or older believers don’t think it necessary to be accountable to those under them. Then how else can you be a better example? Is it not by being completely open to your followers? Your life being bare for them to critic and learn from? Believers that have committed themselves to you do not only learn from your spiritual strides and discipline, but also from your weaknesses and shortcomings. When they know how you fell and stood, when you empathise by laying your life bare before them, then they can face their challenges and successfully overcome them. The superman portrait would not work. It would only put you in a class of your own. 

Someone may ask, “How then do I know who to subject myself to? Can it be any believer?” Well, in a general sense, we are subject to every believer through the community of the church. But in deliberate detailed accountabilty, you cannot be subject to just any Christian. You need to seek for a believer or believers that are sound in the faith, have a good understanding of scriptures and a functional walk with God. It is good to choose someone that is in the same line of your calling. This will help prepare, and not derail you from your specific purpose.

May I quickly sound a caution. The apostle Paul asked believers to follow him as he followed Christ. Christ is the goal and ultimate model. You should follow other believers as long as they take similar steps with Christ, and cease the very moment they derail.

Someone may be saying, “Bro, I’ve looked around. There are no matured Christians for me to commit myself to. All the believers around me have issues.” I’d say too that you have issues; issues that can only be dealt with via Christian accountability. If you don’t know who to start with in this accountability business, I’d say start with the pastor of your local church. That is one of his primary responsibilities. If the pastor of your local church is not someone you can follow his example, please look for another church.

And who says you must have only one accountability relationship? Who says you must only seek counsel and listen to one person? For in the multitude of counsellors there is safety, and purposes are established (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22)

If you err and nobody can edge you to the right path; if you miss church and nobody calls to check on you; if you’re struggling with an addiction and there’s no believer you can confide in; if you’re confused about a critical life decision and you don’t seem to have any older believer you can talk to; if you suddenly take up a new strange doctrine and there’s no older believer that the brethren can run to, to speak sense into you; then you’re sitting on a keg of gunpowder. And God helps you when it explodes.

Christian accountability is a must. For it forms an essential pillar of the Christian community.

gidmedico

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WORD CLINIC 24: The Value of Relationship

WORD CLINIC 24: The Value of Relationship

I peered into her eyes. I loved her, everything about her person. She was one person I had grown to admire of late. She was fast becoming a role model and mentor. She was my biology teacher. As I sat behind the work bench of the laboratory in one of those revision classes before my SSCE exams, staring with dilated pupils at her,  our eyes met. She stopped addressing the class and turned,  facing me. “Gideon,  I’ve noticed this – you don’t have friends. It’s not good. You have to do something about it.”
She was right. Prior to this time I didn’t care. I was a young chap who had met God in my early teenagehood. The bulk of my peers didn’t care about my God. So, in order to stay pure I kept to myself. Up until I was reprimanded by this teacher of mine,  I didn’t care. But now I did. As I walked out the gate of my school that fateful afternoon,  I pondered on these things. “She’s right,  your biology teacher.” the Spirit of God was saying to me. “You actually need to work on your relational life. You’ve been a good example in school; people admire your life from a distance,  but you’ve made little impact on them. Do you know why?” “Why Lord?” I asked. “Your relational life. You need to place more value on relationships,  with God and people.”
And that was it. The last part of the Lord’s statement to me became my number one core value. And I believe it should be the same for others.
Every believer should place the utmost premium on relationship,  because God does. God is a relational being, and He wired man a relational being too. The primary reason God created man is for fellowship. After the fall of man in the third chapter of Genesis, we were told that Adam and his wife heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. What was God seeking? Fellowship. He obviously had been meeting with them,  and even after their fall, He still came to check on them.
In the same vein, God has created man to fellowship with one another. For He created him and placed him in a family,  and a community. Why? Because man was never meant to be alone. Irrespective of temperament, for any human to survive and remain sane, that human needs people. Not just people, but personal persons with whom they can effectively communicate and bond. It’s the reason why the cruel punishment of solitary confinement is meted to condemned criminals; to render them useless.
As food supplies nourishment to the body, so does healthy relationship to the soul and entire being of man. For a man is either made or marred by his relationships.
A vertical relationship with God must be first,  forming the basis for a healthy horizontal relationship with people. Show me a man who has a functional relationship with God, and I’d show you a man who has a fruitful relationship with people. “My relationship with God is working well,  but I simply don’t have time for people.” some believers would say. That is a big fat lie from the pit of hell. If you don’t have meaningful relationships with people, if you don’t have friends, I can say boldly that you don’t have a functional relationship with God. If God wasn’t interested in your relationship with people, He would have taken you immediately to heaven after He got you saved.
David had a friend he loved as his soul,  Jonathan. Jesus had friends; for aside his immediate twelve disciples, He shared a fond relationship with faithfuls like Lazarus,  and Mary and Martha,  his sisters. He even fostered relationships with unbelievers when He ate with task collectors and sinners at Zaccheus’ house. So your excuse of temperament or you not being a people-person is not tenable. For you have Christ as example.
Examine your relationships, with God and people. Start with your nuclear family. When last did you tell your parents that you love them? When last did you spend quality time gisting with your wife? Have you ever asked your colleague at work about his welfare and family? Or you feel it is none of your business. Do you still exchange pleasantries with those you meet in the bus? Or you feel it’s old fashioned. Please turn a new leaf. For God wants you to give the utmost care to your relationships.
Before going to bed next time, ask yourself this question, “How have I bettered my relationship with people today?” For the value of a life, is in the value of the relationships he has built. For what would matter most to you in your dying bed is not the amount of wealth you’ve amassed, but the valuable relationships you possess.
gidmedico

WORD CLINIC 23: Stop massaging your conscience with church

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They were wearing colourful clothes with jewels, shoes and handbags to match. They were chatting away, walking towards my direction. I was almost late for church on this fateful Sunday morning, but I reduced my pace a bit to admire these ladies. For they looked gorgeous, with such gracious outlook, as though they were angels dropped from heaven. I was beginning to assume kinship with them because it was obvious our destination was the same, when all of a sudden it occurred to me that there may exist among these ladies, the night clubers I saw while returning from my late night call last Friday; or the smokers I saw sitting at a popular bar in my area on that fateful Thursday evening, giggling with friends like they had just won a jackpot, with their canines and molars working on the pork meat in their mouth, been washed down with intermittent gulps of alcohol; or the patient I clerked in my clinic, whose religion was Christianity, and marital status, single, but had aborted three times in the last two years, and was still sexually active.

As I walked pass them, still lost in thoughts, the Holy Spirit whispered this to me, “Many of my children massage their consciences with church.” “Lord, what do you mean by that?” I asked. Then He went on to expatiate.

Our country Nigeria is ladened with a lot of religious people whose greetings on Sundays are usually, “Happy Sunday ma! Happy Sunday sir!” Youths, who after Sunday services would start taking cool selfies with their church clothes and place these pictures on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp status, with captions and hastags reading, “Sunday vibes”. Yet, these same people would step out the next day, and live their Mondays through Saturdays, as though God didn’t exist.

Do not be surprised that the politician that illegally carts away with task payers money on Monday, is the usher that stands at the door of the church on Sunday; or the doctor that performs abortion on Wednesday is the head of the Sunday school in his church; or the police officer that takes bribe on public holidays, extorting and framing innocent car owners, is the church’s accountant; or the employer who has not paid his staffs for the last six months is the parish pastor of that popular denomination. The paradoxical comparison been endless.

During the week, their consciences scream as they live contrary to God’s will. Some would try to shut it up by confessing their righteousness in Christ, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” they would quote. Others would try to quieten this judge-of-right-or-wrong by alluding to the fact that everyone sins, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” they would quote. But for many, their gimmicks doesn’t work. Their consciences still scream.

But when they wake on Sunday mornings, Oh what a glorious day! They clad themselves with the best of their attires, and paint their faces with all forms of disfigurement, because the day to appease their consciences has come. As they walk through the church doors, they would begin to savor God’s presence, relishing in the soothing feeling it gives their souls. As the opening prayer begins, they would immediately go down on their knees asking for forgiveness. An onlooker will think they are the most pious. They would dance hard during the praise, lift up ‘holy’ hands during the worship, shake their heads vigorously during the prayers, all in a bid to appease their consciences. “Ride on pastor!” some will yell during the message. Others will dash to the altar and drop offerings at the feet of the man of God during the sermon. Some may even make distracting and dramatic displays, like lifting their plastic chairs and screaming “Yeah! Yeah! Preach it sir! Glory! Word! Shalabababa. . .”, all in a bid to quieten their consciences and appease their church minds. But once the graces and the closing rituals are said, they’re out the church door and back to their normal godless lives.

“Who are they deceiving?” the Spirit of God said to me. Then He reminded me of David’s prayer in Psalms, the fifty-one verse, the seventeenth chapter, “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart O God you will not despise.” The Message Bible renders the preceding verse thus, “Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. . .” Then The Living Bible puts that same verse seventeen thus, “It is a broken spirit you want – remorse and penitence.”

So, if you’re in any way guilty of what the Holy Spirit said to me, please repent. And stop massaging your conscience with church.

gidmedico

WORD CLINIC 22: The Worth of a Rational Mind

WORD CLINIC 22: The Worth of a Rational Mind

Growing up, I was an inquisitive kid. I asked a lot of questions. “Daddy, why are those women wearing black clothes?”, “Why are we entering a bus? Why not our own car?”, “What is the name of that thing? There, that thing there?”, “How does one knot a tie? I want to do it myself.” And I’d go on and on, from one question to the next. I could only imagine how bothersome I was then to my parents. But thankfully, they didn’t shut me up. They patiently provided answers, in as simple a form as possible, that my naive mind could grab. Unknown to them, they were nurturing a mind. A rational mind. That would not just accept the status quo, and swallow everything – hook, line and sinker. But one, that would ask the right questions and make the world a better place.

Many folks these days do not ask meaningful questions. They don’t know specific names of people, things, places, methods; “Give me that thing, that yellow thing.” they would say. They don’t know how to do many everyday tasks; “Is it everything someone will know how to do?” they would demand. They don’t know why they do what they do; “Why must I know why? Everybody does it, don’t they?” they would ask. But when you check their lives, it is nothing more than average. They are not advancing, but rather retrogressing.

I was speaking with some youths in a suburban region of recent. They didn’t know who Nigeria’s colonial masters were. I was shocked. So I asked if they knew what the Independence day we celebrate on October 1st stood for. They didn’t. I was the more shocked. I didn’t know where to start from. I left wondering, “What were they taught at home? Exactly what did their parents discuss at home? So they couldn’t even chip in a little history about Nigeria? So these youths didn’t even as kids wonder why they had to learn English in school?”

Pick a Secondary School Student at random and ask him or her, “Why are you going to school?” Many will respond, “To learn to read and write.” “And so, why must you learn to read and write? To what end?” You’ll find them staring at you dumbfounded. Then some seemly smart ones may say, “Because my parents want me to read and write.” What an appalling state! That’s why a lot of graduates don’t have a job. And many who do, are making little or no impact in their societies. They did not know why they went to school. It was just the status quo.

To have a rational mind, three prevalent questions must be asked in every situation of life. What. How. Why. The question “What” helps with identity, recognition, characterisation. It is the starting point. It is the foundation block. The question “How” helps with process and the manner with which things are done. It deals with methodology. It breaks things into steps. The question “Why” helps with purpose. It tells the reason behind what is done, or what exist. It is the most important. If left unanswered, will result in the churning out of humans, that are mere robots.

Our ultimate role model, Jesus, didn’t live an ordinary life on earth because He asked questions. In the gospel according to Luke, the forty-sixth verse of the second chapter, we find Jesus sitting in the midst of doctors of the law, both hearing them and asking questions. Questions that led to Him discovering and fulfilling purpose.

Mary, the betrothed virgin of Joseph, after receiving God’s message through Gabriel of her immaculate conception asked, “How shall this be?” This she asked, seeking understanding of God’s ways. And when she did, she was able to submit to His will, fulfilling purpose.

It’s high time parents trained their kids to have a rational mind. Don’t just tell them what to do, but work them through the process of how to do it. Don’t just let them know how, but also why they need to do it. That way, the child is introduced to purpose from the very beginning. He develops a rational, critical mind; questions the status quo, improving on what is good and jettisoning what is bad; becomes innovative, and leaves the society a better place.

It’s high time employers developed a workforce that does not just accept the routine everyday tasks; employees that would not just say “Yes sir!” or “Yes ma!” to whatever they’re told. But those that would ask pressing questions about what their specific duties are; how they are to effectively execute their tasks, and most importantly, why they’re doing what they do. Questions that would make them re-evaluate the status quo, teasing out what is profitable and what is not, and coming up with innovations that would advance their workplace.

This is unarguable. That every great man is a great thinker. And every great thinker asks questions; meaningful questions. Questions that would not only provide answers to burning needs, but would lead to the emergence of a terrific person, with a rational mind.

gidmedico

Word Clinic 21: Truth is absolute

Word Clinic 21: Truth is absolute

“On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.’  So THE SUN STOOD STILL…”

Joshua 10:12‭-‬13 NIV

I was cycling back from work this morning at about past six (I was on call through the night), enjoying my leisurely ride, I gazed into the distance above the trees in my far vision and was blinded by the hue of the rising sun. For a moment, I tried appreciating the earth’s horizon, how the road in the distance disappeared in a gentle convexity from which the sun was emerging. And then I remembered the Bible story above. Joshua actually told that sun to stand still. I ruminated a little on that miraculous event – how a mortal man halted the course of nature, and then my mind wondered off to another issue.

Joshua actually did tell the sun to stand still? Was the sun moving before? From the geography I know, the sun is stagnant in our solar system, while the earth rotates around its axis to cause the effect of day and night, and revolves around the sun to cause the effect of different seasons. Then it dawned on me. Joshua’s time was before scientists came to know that the earth was spherical and not flat; and that it was the earth that was in motion and not the sun. The “sun-standing-still” event took place around 14th century BC when almost everyone believed the earth was flat and stationary with the sun and moon doing the movements around it. It was not until 470 to 385 BC that some ancient Greek philosophers started putting forth the theory that we may have a rotating earth instead of the sun, and that we most likely had a spherical earth.

But then, when Joshua and those Israelites and Amorites were to report the miraculous event that took place at Gibeon, they said “the sun stood still.” Someone standing in the sun (if that were possible) would have said “the earth stopped rotating.” God looking from His throne in heaven into our miniature solar system would have said “the earth stopped rotating.” Different perspectives!

But if God had told Joshua then that the earth stopped rotating, and that that was why the sun stayed over Gibeon and did not go down for a whole day, he would have argued, and doubted if he was truly hearing God. So I think that’s why God let him document that portion of Scripture in his own perspective since it still conveyed the miracle that happened to the people of their time. But the different perspectives that stemmed out of the people’s ignorance then, did not change the truth. What truth? That the earth is spherical and rotated, and that the sun did not stand still but the earth.

Now what point am I driving at? Truth is absolute and unbending. Even if everyone gangs up against it, it still remains the truth. It doesn’t follow the democracy principle of “the majority has it.” It may be obscured due to perspective but when that perspective gains alignment, it discovers that the truth had been the same the whole time.

I’ve seen some Christians pick up some portions of Scripture and make it say what it is not saying. They make leading sentences like “this is how I understand it” or “my viewpoint or school of thought about this scripture is this.” And then they begin the argument and appear to back up their points with “Scriptures”. They may end up bamboozling the ignorant and naïve ones, but what they fail to realise is that Truth is absolute. 

The truth about God’s word is absolute. Every portion of Scripture has just one truth and the onus lies on the believer to discover that by meticulous study, listening to what others that have gone ahead have to say about those Scriptures and dependence on the Holy Spirit’s illumination.

God already knew that the earth was spherical (after all He created it) way before Greek philosophers started postulating about it in the 6th century BC. The prophet in Isaiah forty verses twenty two said “He sits enthroned above the CIRCLE OF THE EARTH, and its people are like grasshoppers. . .” So when Anaximander and Hecataeus of Miletus were drawing their early world maps based on the early Mesopotamian mythology that portrayed the world as a flat disk floating in the ocean with a hemispherical sky-dome above, God was probably laughing hysterically at them from above. Now with evidencial knowledge at our disposal, we can join God in that laughter at these fellows. 

But has it occurred to you that God may be laughing at some of the folly we currently display in the interpretation of Scriptures? Interpretations like “If you sin, just confess your righteousness,” “Once you believe the gospel, that is obedience, no matter what you do afterwards,” “You don’t need to please God since He is already pleased with you,” “You are already in heaven,” “God is good, so He cannot kill.” And many more hilarious interpretations.

I know that someone may be uncomfortable with me saying that “God is laughing…” Remember I qualified that laughter with the word “hysteric.” And the last time I checked, this qualifier can also be used for weeping. So which ever you want, God is unhappy with the wrong interpretation of His Truth, because His Truth is a person – He never changes.

gidmedico

WORD CLINIC 20: Feel free to quote your Bible

WORD CLINIC 20: Feel free to quote your Bible

After one of those religious riots in the 1990s in which a great number of persons were massacred, the Kano state government called together prominent persons in diverse fields to discuss the way forward. These persons entailed pastors, imams, chief judges, doctors, politicians, and many other important personnel, the governor himself was present.

The conference kick-started at about noon, the theme of the meeting was to discuss how to maintain peace in the state and each speaker had ten minutes to make his point. Speaker after speaker spoke; they all tried to be diplomatic and politically correct. The imams spoke, trying hard not to hurt the christians in attendance; pastors spoke, avoiding direct statements from the Bible and making general statements like “we can live in peace and harmony, we are all brothers. . .” Some even said “. . . we serve the same God. . .” But someone stood up and spoke differently. He was a doctor, a consultant ophthalmologist, renowned in his field. More importantly, he was a christian known to speak the truth without mincing words.

He started by saying that Jesus was the Prince of peace. And that the state could never know peace as long as she kept rejecting Jesus. He quoted Scriptures like John sixteen verses thirty-three in which Jesus was saying “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” He quoted other Scriptures to buttress his point then summarised. In the seconds that passed, there was dead silence all over the hall. Everyone watched the speaker with apprehension. One could imagine the audience standing up, ranting and hauling stones at this man. But instead, he received applaud, and some standing ovation. What a bold step! He spoke the truth and referenced his Bible and God got the glory.

Many Believers feel awkward referencing the Bible in secular meetings, when writing articles for newspapers and magazines, or in non-fiction writings, and in other “outside-the-church” settings. But why is this the case? The Bible is not just a religious book but a holistic one. It is the most successful literary creation, more influential than Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s works have been translated into 60 languages while the Bible has been translated into well over 2,000 languages. The Bible outsells every other book every year, as world’s bestseller. About 44 million copies of the Bible are sold every year.

Some have argued that the Bible was nothing but the white man’s tool to subdue and enslave Blacks through their colonisation; it is nothing but a religious book that peddles hearsays and lacks facts. But a closer look at how it came about will dismiss this argument. It was written over a period of 1600 years by more than 40 authors (led by the Holy Spirit) all from different backgrounds – kings, diplomats, fishermen, tentmakers, poor people, the list been endless, all spanning across three continents – Africa, Asia, Europe. It was written in three languages – Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, and across multiple cultures. And yet, the whole Book has one theme – Jesus. This book obviously cannot be the figment of someone’s imagination.

Some have queried the reliability of the text, especially the New Testament, claiming it had been subjected to alterations. The Bible has done well in terms of preservation. It is obvious a divine hand has been behind it. Over 5,300 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin and 9,300 early other portions of the New Testament of the Bible are still in existence. These were early copies of the original book. No other document from antiquity comes close to this (in terms of sheer numbers). If you reject the reliability of the text of the New Testament just in terms of sheer numbers, then you lose all of classical antiquity. 

John Warwick Montgomery puts it this way: “To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity; for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.” You may wonder why I’ve said this much about the New Testament and not the Old. That’s because the reliability of the New is more contested than the Old Testament. Notwithstanding, the latter is as reliable as the former.

The word “Bible” means book. It is the book of books. When dying, Sir Walter Scott, the possessor of a great library called his son saying, “Bring me the book” “Which book?” asked the son. Walter replied, “There is only one book, it is the Bible.”

I wonder why I can’t make reference to the Bible in a secular gathering without been tagged as religious. If there’s one book that has stood the test of critical scholars and historians over centuries, it is the Bible.

So friends, when next you’re in that secular gathering, or writing that article or thesis of yours, feel free to quote your Bible.

gidmedico

WORD CLINIC 19: Am I my brother’s keeper?

WORD CLINIC 19: Am I my brother’s keeper?

Jillion years ago, about a century after the creation of man, Cain stood at the back of their stone-carved house. His hands were clasped in front of him; sweat dripping down his face unto his bare chest and down to his lower intimates which were concealed with coverings made from goat skin. He stood with his neck extended, face corrugated, eyes peering into the sky, with wrath steaming from him. Cain was angry. With who, one may wonder? With the most unexpected being. With God actually.

Adam’s family had just concluded their harvest ceremony few days back in which their kids brought offerings to God. Cain was an agronomist, the first of his kind, whose fields had yielded a bountiful harvest; Abel his brother on the other hand was a prosperous herdsman. Cain had offered to God as burnt offering, some fruits from his harvest. Abel offered an offering – fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flocks. God had accepted Abel’s offering but rejected that of Cain. So Cain was mad with God. What humiliation! How would God do this to him? To choose his brother over him. This brother of his was always stealing the spotlight; he had been the favourite of Mum and Dad, and now of God too? Abel was standing in his way and he had to get rid of him, period.

God, reading the thoughts of Cain, came to him and stood before him. His intention was to restrain this young man from birthing the atrocity he was conceiving in his thoughts. He spoke softly to him, “Cain, why are you angry? Why is your countenance fallen? If you had done what is right, won’t I have accepted you? Didn’t Adam your father tell you that I’m a just God? 

“Hey son, I want you to quit ruminating on those thoughts of yours. Abel has done you no wrong. Please watch this greed and lust of yours! If you don’t tame it now it will conceive and bring forth sin. And when sin is finished, it will bring forth death. Don’t say I didn’t warn you o!” Cain sneered, as if God wasn’t speaking to him said in his mind, “God, what is it? You’ve come again! Well, you’ve said your own. I’ve heard.” He let his hands loose, turned his eyes away from the sun and swung back to go into their primitive hut where Adam, his wife and second son were finishing their meal of wild goat soup and pumpkin leaves.

Cain signalled Abel after dinner was done. He whispered into his ear that he needed his help. He said he had forgotten to carry some tuber of yams from his farm earlier in the day and needed an extra hand. They both walked from their house through the footpath that led to one of Cain’s farmland, as the sun set over them. When they got to the farm, Abel asked Cain, “Brother, where are the yams?” Cain responded, “Oh, I pilled some behind that tree trunk over there, while the remaining are on this other side. Why not go get the ones behind the tree? I’d join you soon.” Abel nodded and moved towards the tree. Cain looked to his left, and then to his right. The illumination was poor already. The sky was growing dark, and the night was fast creeping in. He brought out a narrow but tough stick that had one of its end filed, making it sharp and pointed. He had carefully hid this in his goat-skin skirt, and now he approached his brother from behind, tiptoeing towards Abel with his weapon held out. With the speed of light, he grabbed his brother from behind, his left hand over Abel’s mouth, and in a synced motion, he twisted his neck to the left, and drove the sharp end of the stick into the exposed right neck of Abel. The murder weapon found the carotid vessels and gbam, blood shooting up into the air, bathing Cain. He let the lifeless body of his brother down slowly to the ground. Cain began to shiver at the gory sight of Abel. What had he done? His conscience smote him. “Hey, and God warned me o!” He lamented. But the deed was done. The first murder in the history of mankind. 

He walked away, hardening his heart. He definitely could not go back home; his parents would ask of Abel. As he trudged into the desert sand, God accosted him, “Cain, Cain. Where is your brother Abel?” Cain stopped abruptly, turned his face away and said, “I don’t know!” The deafening silence of God seemed to say to Cain, “That isn’t good enough.” In defence and with utmost disgust in his voice he retorted, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century AD, Cain’s story may appear distant and impossible, but I tell you that may believers in the church ask this rhetorical question by their actions and words. Many have failed to correctly discern the Lord’s body and by so doing have dragged the name of Christ in the mud.

Watchman Nee, a Bible teacher I so much revere, made some statements about the church that I will like to make reference to. He said, “Although you are only a member, what you do is what the Body of Christ does. One member can drag down the whole Body.” He also stated that “The goal of God was to establish not just the individual Christ (perfected Christian) but the corporate Christ (perfected Church).” Many Christians do not understand the concept of the church. They have lost the sense of the Christian community. You will hear many Believers say, “Christianity is a personal walk. Other believers can do what they want. That’s their business!” No sir! No ma! You’re right about the part of Christianity being a personal walk. But it’s only part of the equation. Christianity is also a corporate walk. God got you saved and placed you in a family called the church, the body of Christ. To cut yourself from her, would be akin to severing yourself from your source. You will gradually die out. 

What happens to your brother affects you directly or indirectly, whether you like it or not. It’s our family name that is at stake. The hand cannot claim that it is not perturbed by the pain the foot is going through, neither can the heart deny that it is nourished by the food that the mouth takes in; for the body is not made up of one part but many. . . and its parts should have equal concern for each other (1 Corinthians 12:14,25)

I remember back then in my local church in the North. There was this middle-aged man, married with kids, who was committed to church activities but had practically no social dealings with members. He would come to church with his family and say nothing more with anybody after exchanging his brief pleasantries. He danced, prayed and seemed to enjoy the whole service. Immediately after the service, he would walk straight to his car without chatting with anyone, and off he goes. As a child I wondered what an awkward fellow he was. I really didn’t understand why he acted the way he did until I had a face off with one of his kids. When the elders came to settle the issue, this man said, “This is why I mind my business in Church. I have not come to church to see anybody but to worship my God and go.” As honest as his statement may sound, it sounds to me like a revised version of “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Let me respond for God. “Yes, you are! You are meant to be your brother’s keeper” Galatians six verses one and two says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. . . Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” We need to look out for each other as brethren. Even Paul in 1 Thessalonians five twenty-five begged the church saying, “Brothers and sisters, pray for us.” Therefore, every member of the body needs to be prayed and cared for.

Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Visit that sister who didn’t come to church last Sunday. Get new shoes for the brother wearing only a single pair of worn-out shoes. Bring those job vacancies to Church. Lovingly correct that brother hanging out with friends that drink and smoke. Enough with turning blind eyes to the ills and needs of your brother.

Always remember that you have not only yourself to watch, but your brother also.

gidmedico